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Caribou Range Cookie Map
An Edible Lesson in Geography
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Where do the Porcupine caribou roam? In the Arctic, a rich and diverse land of mountains and tundra. Study this wilderness range to learn the paths the caribou travel then make a cookie map of the landscape they roam.

If you are not very familiar with the north pull out your atlases and get your bearings, or take a look at this interactive Web page supplied by the Porcupine Caribou Herd Satellite Collar Project.

Background: Key Geographic Features for your Map:

Geography: Mountain Ranges, Rivers and Towns


  • Richardson Mountains
  • Ogilvie Mountains
  • Chandalar Mountains

After a long migration south to the valleys north of the Ogilvie Mountains the Porcupine caribou find protection from deep snows already fallen on the southern slopes. On the eastern edge of their range, strong winter winds keep snow from accumulating in the Richardson Mountains offering the caribou a better environment for finding food and protection. In the west, the Chandalar Mountains protect these migrating animals from cold winter weather that blows in from the Bering Sea.

Coastal Plain:
Porcupine Caribou MigrationRange
Courtesy PCMB

In springtime the caribou move northward towards the coastal plain of the Beaufort Sea to find the first of the spring greens. This is the area where yearly calving occurs. Here the strong and constant winds blowing off the Beaufort Sea and over the coastal plain help to disperse the great swarms of insect enemies. This coastal area lies inside the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in the United States and extends east into the Ivvavik National Park in Canada.

The rivers of the Arctic play an important role for the caribou. First, in warmer seasons rivers provide drinking water. Second,a river's volume and flow determines where the herds can cross over. Also, river valleys are used as geographical landmarks in the caribou's annual migrations guiding the herds through age-old pathways.

  • The Porcupine River
  • Yukon River

Towns and Landmark:
Each of the following towns and landmarks lies within the range of the migrating Porcupine caribou herd. What do you think happens when the caribou are confronted with civilization? How has this ancient migration affected the people along the migration path?

  • Old Crow
  • Kaktovik
  • Prudhoe Bay and nearby oil development
  • Fort Yukon
  • Arctic Village
  • Dawson City
  • Fairbanks
  • Herschel Island

Two Countries:
The porcupine caribou migrate each year passing from Canada into the United States and back without ever knowing it! For centuries the herd has moved freely between Alaska, the Yukon and Northwestern Territories during the course of a year.

Activity: Making the Cookie Map

Caribou range cookie map
Click for a sample!
What you will need:
  1. Prepared sugar cookie dough
  2. Rolling pins
  3. Large cookie sheets
  4. Large chocolate drops
  5. String licorice
  6. White, blue and green frosting
  7. Small edible treats to represent towns and caribou
  8. Raisins
  9. Red hots
  10. Chocolate chips
  11. Stick pins and paper labels


  1. Working in groups, design your range map on a piece of paper using the maps of the caribou migration range. Include mountains, rivers and towns.
  2. Roll out and form cookie dough on a large cookie sheet in the shape of the caribou range.
  3. When the big cookie looks like your map, send it to the oven to bake.
  4. While the cookie is hot, place the large chocolate drops where the mountain ranges are shown in darker colors on the range map.
  5. Add the licorice for the rivers
  6. Use white frosting to paint in the 3 main wintering areas
  7. Use blue frosting for the Beaufort Sea
  8. Use green frosting to show the summer calving grounds
  9. Place treats on landmarks, (Dawson City, Arctic Village, Kaktovik, etc.)
  10. Use treats (small ones!) as place markers for individual caribou
  11. Label each important landmark

Now look at your maps. What features do you notice that make this suitable range for these caribou. Think about and discuss the details.